Villagers vow to fight plans to turn historic pub into holiday lets
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
Residents who battled to save an historic village pub from becoming holiday lets say they are disappointed to have to start the fight over all again after a new planning application was submitted.
The Pentir Village Action Group has pledged to “keep fighting” to save the 18th century Tafarn Vaynol in the Gwynedd village and hopes someday to be able to buy it for use as a community hub.
The tavern and former coaching inn dates back to the mid-18th Century and once formed part of the Faenol Estate.
It lies at the at the village centre of Pentir alongside the A4244.
Gwynedd Council received a new planning application for the change of use of the ground floor of the building from a public house to holiday lets, on February 20.
Plans had previously been submitted by owner Duncan Gilroy to convert the downstairs pub area into two holiday lets.
But Gwynedd Council had rejected that scheme last year, saying “insufficient information” had been submitted.
Now, a new application had now been made through agent Paul Roberts of Anglesey-based Sylfaen Associates Ltd.
In a post on Facebook, the Friends of Pentir said, yesterday, “Looks like you will have to consider your position all over again because the owner of the Vaynol Arms has submitted another planning application to convert OUR pub to holiday accommodations.
“Please go to the planning office website, read the application and make your own decisions about what you want to do. Our stance will be the same as before, we will object.”
Mr Gilroy said the Vaynol Arms had been offered to the local community on a lease – which he says was substantially less than the lease that the former owner Robinsons had with their tenant. He said they had failed to make any offer.
Harry Hambleton of the action group told the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme: “We are very disappointed to have to go through the whole process again. They don’t seem to be aware of the depth of feeling in the village for this old pub.
“It was not only historically used by Pentir villagers but also by nearby communities such as Rhiwlas. There is no reason it can’t be viable again.
“It has been a pub since the 1700s, it was the beating heart of the community for years until it closed a couple of years ago, we have been fighting to save it ever since. We are a non-profit organisation and we want to use Government and Lottery funding to turn it into an asset for local people.
“We want it to be a community hub pub, with a post office and a cafe, it would be a central point for local people to meet and would put money back into the local community. We have tried to discuss leasing the property, but it was too much, ideally we would like to buy the property.”
A Sylfaen Associates planning document, prepared for Mr Gilroy, dated January 23, said the Pentir Action Group, had had “the opportunity to submit a proposal to re-open the premises as a community led enterprise or even the purchase of the unit, but no offers, formal or informal, have been received”.
It said the proposal was “a modest change that would allow the development of additional residential units, but also provide improvements to the existing site and locality”.
It also described how the pub’s “prosperity has declined over the years”.
It cited reasons, including “the decline in overall pub visits and turnover, increased competition from new and existing more centralised public house, hotels and restaurants, changes in social habits, increased costs and lack of reinvestment in the premises”.
Mr Gilroy said: “The Vaynol Arms was offered to the local community on a lease. The lease was substantially less than the original lease that the former owner Robinsons had with their tenant. The community were unable even to open a bank account and therefore withdrew from the lease negotiation. The community have said that they want to buy the building. We have not received any offer from anyone and further more the building is not for sale. The community are happy to talk the talk but they can not walk the walk.”
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